Home > Kill Song (Cardinal Sins Book 1)

Kill Song (Cardinal Sins Book 1)
Author: Heather Long

 


Prologue

 

 

Vienna


I only had a couple of minutes left. After bath time, Daddy always let me watch one hour of television. Only one hour a day and only if I had done my school work and finished my chores. He always said more would rot my brain and I was a smart girl. Smart girls made smart decisions.

We said it every morning when it was time to do work and every night before bed. I glanced up at the cartoon on the television. Daddy laughed at this one, it was our favorite to watch. I finished the page in my coloring book as the episode ended and it was time.

I tore the page out carefully. Always carefully. Smooth edges. It was a complicated pattern and it took me all day to color on my breaks. I cleaned up my crayons and put my coloring book back under the coffee table after I wiped down the front of it and the crayon boxes. Daddy's rules.

I was already in my pajamas, but I wanted to give Daddy his coloring page and kiss him goodnight. I turned off the light in the living room and went to the basement door. If the chain was on, it meant go to bed cause Daddy was already busy. The door opened with one tug. No chain.

Yay.

I trotted down the stairs to the basement. Daddy was at his workbench. Fresh plastic lay over the floor and he was lining up his tools. He didn't have his smock on, so he really hadn't gotten started yet. At my arrival, he smiled.

"All done?"

I held up the coloring page in triumph. It had been a challenge for me to get the details exactly right. He set one of the tools down in order, then took the page and examined it carefully. I didn't shuffle or jump up and down.

"It's perfect, sweet girl," he said with a slow smile of pride, and happiness ballooned in my chest. It was the first time I'd done it exactly right. Daddy always gave me a sheet to look at but I only got a minute to study it, then I had to replicate the colors exactly. "You ready for bed?"

"Yes, sir," I told him, still grinning happily as he squatted down in front of me.

"Breath check."

I blew on his face and he took a sniff of my minty clean teeth. Never try to fool Daddy that I'd done something when I hadn't. He waited for me to return with my own challenge.

"Hug check."

I got hugs or I got kisses. I couldn't have both. I had to tell Daddy what I wanted.

He set my work aside with care, then scooped me up into a hug. Daddy gave the best hugs. I squeezed my arms around his neck and looked over his shoulder. I had the best Daddy, too.

"You need Daddy to tuck you in?"

Sometimes I did, but I was a big girl and Daddy still had work to do. I didn't need him to check under the bed for monsters, either. Monsters knew better than to mess with my daddy.

The monster duct taped to the chair stared at me, eyes bulging and face red, but I just grinned at him. The monsters couldn't hurt me.

"No, Daddy," I told him as I leaned back and then kissed his cheek. "I can do it."

"Good girl. Off to bed then."

"Good night, Daddy," I said as I raced to the stairs and I grinned at the monster in the chair before I waved goodbye to him. I wasn't supposed to talk to the monsters, but it always made me feel safer to know Daddy had caught another one.

I skipped up the stairs and let myself out. Then I went up the next flight of stairs to my bedroom. I didn't even bother with the lights as I clambered across to get under the blankets and I cuddled Monsieur Claude. The panda bear had been mine for as long as I could remember and I took the time to tuck him in with me. While we slept, Daddy would work, and in the morning the monster would be all gone.

 

 

1

 

 

Merrick


“I have total faith in you, Merrick.” The nurse, who’d been something of a mother-figure to me while at the Lancaster Sanatorium, smiled warmly. “I’ll miss you, but I won’t be seeing you again. Call it a woman's intuition.”

I’d been here for eight weeks, voluntarily of course. These good people were trying to cure me of a pesky little habit of mine. After one heartbreak too many, and putting too much faith in the wrong people, I figured it was time to seek treatment.

The staff had been great, the therapy sessions were the highlight of my day. Talking out your feelings with a group of unbiased strangers just really made me feel like I was making progress.

Bertha opened the door, and waited for me to walk out of the ward. It wasn’t top security or anything like that. Everyone was here of their own free will and could check themselves out at any time. She was just being polite, and I loved that about her. My own mother had been mostly distant, and Bertha would have made a great one.

“Come on now. It’s getting late. I’m sure you don’t want to spend another night with us old biddies.” She grinned, referring to the trio of elderly nurses who often shared her shifts.

I frowned. I loved it here, but I’d already stayed three weeks past the completion of the program. No one understood me the way these people did. No, I was starting down a slippery slope thinking like that.

Taking a deep breath, I hoisted the backpack over my shoulder and shoved my phone in my pocket. “It was great, and I appreciate everything you all have done for me. And you’re right. I won’t be back.”

I had excelled in therapy and found the perfect coping mechanisms that worked for me when I was stressed. Armed with a whole new arsenal of tools, I was ready to go back into the world.

She called a final goodbye as I headed to the elevator.

Damn, this felt good. I’d pick up some dinner on the way home and celebrate my release with a big fat, juicy steak.

The doors opened to the elevator, and I stepped in, moderately happy to have it all to myself. It was almost nine, so not many people would be coming and going from Lancaster, except for staff, or the random releasee like me.

Soft, cheesy music played from the speakers as I started the descent to the first floor. A huge, cartoonish sign hung on the back wall with the text ‘See something? Say something!’ printed across the middle in bold block letters. The whole thing screamed elementary school, making me chuckle at the nostalgia it fanned inside me. I loved all the signs lining the halls and bathrooms, reminding us to be good people and make good decisions. Actually, I probably should have paid more attention to them, and I wouldn’t have needed therapy.

Cool, humid air kissed my skin as I stepped out onto the street. Not many people were out, and this part of town was always lacking in lights. Whistling an old tune, I stayed close to the buildings, stepping over the occasional homeless person or pile of trash.

Lancaster really should put more effort into cleaning up their neighborhood.

Approaching the one open bar on the street, I let my gaze wander down the alley right before I hit the front, and my steps faltered. That didn’t look right at all.

Was I seeing things? I hoped so, because it looked like a man had a woman pinned to the wall. It could have been the shadows, giving them a sinister vibe. Maybe it was a lover’s quarrel. There wasn’t any screaming that I could hear.

But they were pretty far down the alley…

I forced myself to keep walking, unprepared for how heavy each step would be as I lost sight of the couple. My instincts were shit, part of why I checked myself into Lancaster in the first place, so I was probably imagining the wrongness of the scene.

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